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POLITICO New York Energy: Climate accord; Supreme challenges

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

Good morning! Only POLITICO New York Pro subscribers receive an enhanced version of this email at 5:30 a.m. each weekday. If you'd like to receive it, along with a customized real-time news feed of New York energy policy news throughout the day, please contact us at newyork@politicopro.com and we'll set you up for trial access. Thank you for reading.

CUOMO, 16 GOVS JOIN CLIMATE ACCORD — The Guardian: “A bipartisan group of governors from 17 states has pledged to accelerate their efforts to create a green economy in the US by boosting renewables, building better electricity grids and cutting emissions from transport ... The governors are from California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington. These states are home to around 40% of the US population.” http://bit.ly/1PPw9BH

—“While Governor Cuomo has positioned New York as a national leader on climate change, his goals are weaker in several ways than those adopted seven years ago by Governor Paterson.” Mark Dunlea via the 100% Renewable Now Campaign: http://bit.ly/1omFSs0

AROUND NEW YORK:

--The city of Cohoes is adding a 2.6 megawatt solar array. http://bit.ly/1R6UVjk

--The temperature in Albany rose 11 degrees in 6 minutes Tuesday. http://bit.ly/1omtxUS Meanwhile, the rest of the state had snow, flood and thunderstorm warnings. http://bit.ly/1omu0X3

--Con Edison reported Tuesday that it set records in gas demand for its 1 million natural gas customers in New York City and Westchester over the end of last week, when temperatures barely made it out of the single digits. http://politi.co/1PPvSPm

--The state Department of Financial Services will set up a command center in Hoosick Falls to help residents with mortgage issues after a toxic chemical was found in the municipal water supply. http://politi.co/248UFaA

--The state Department of Environmental Conservation released its designation of the Saint-Gobain facility in Hoosick Falls as a hazardous waste disposal site. http://on.ny.gov/1Qkj42y

GOOD WEDNESDAY MORNING: Let us know anytime if you have tips, story ideas or life advice. We're always here at dgiambusso@politico.com and swaldman@politico.com. And if you like this letter, please tell a friend and/or loved one. Here’s a handy sign-up link: politi.co/1UqoEoB

SUPREME COURT WON’T DERAIL POWER SECTOR SHIFT AWAY FROM COAL — Reuters’ Valerie Volcovici and Scott Disavino: “The U.S. power sector's shift toward burning less coal and using more natural gas and renewable energy will not be derailed by the Supreme Court ruling against the Obama administration's limits on carbon emissions, state regulators and utilities said on Wednesday. The U.S. Supreme Court decided 5-4 on Tuesday to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon emissions crackdown on coal plants until a legal challenge is resolved. Some states may now slow work on compliance with the EPA's Clean Power Plan. But some experts said they were confident the rule will survive the legal challenge when the D.C. circuit court makes a decision this summer.” http://reut.rs/1R6XYIl

GREENS SOUR ON SRINIVASAN — POLITICO's Elana Schor: The prospect of President Barack Obama tapping Sri Srinivasan for the Supreme Court is spawning a sharp debate among at least one part of the Democrats' liberal grassroots — environmentalists turned off by his high-profile defense of giant fossil fuel companies. The federal appellate court judge has emerged as an early favorite to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, given Srinivasan's sterling educational and professional credentials, his bipartisan work history and his inspiring biography as an immigrant who has risen to the highest ranks of the legal profession. But his history of representing large corporations runs the risk of alienating Obama allies looking to gauge his still-developing record on key liberal priorities.

HOW COAL DECIMATED APPALACHIA — Opinion by the New York Times editorial board: “As the destructive coal mining process known as mountaintop removal ebbs in Appalachia, it is leaving behind what amounts to its own grim field of tombstones: A grossly disfigured landscape pocked with decapitated mountains standing flat as mesas and inhospitable to forest restoration. The blight is more than vertical, for millions of tons of slag waste have been bulldozed down into the surrounding countryside for more than 40 years.” http://nyti.ms/20Y6XDz

ENVIRONMENTAL COST OF E-COMMERCE — The New York Times’ Matt Richtel: “Over all, the $350 billion e-commerce industry has doubled in the last five years, with Amazon setting the pace. Its Prime membership service has grown to more than 50 million subscribers, by one estimate. (And its new faster service, Prime Now, can ‘get customers pretty much anything in minutes,’ its website says). Uber calls its new UberRush service ‘your on-demand delivery fleet;’ Jet Delivery offers ‘white glove’ service in less than two hours; Instacart can deliver groceries to your door in less than an hour.” http://nyti.ms/1KomS6W

OKLAHOMA REGULATORS ORDER CUTS TO FRACKING WASTEWATER — The Associated Press: “Oklahoma oil-and-gas regulators on Tuesday issued their most far-reaching directive yet in response to a surge in earthquakes by asking the operators of nearly 250 injection wells to reduce the amount of wastewater they inject underground by 40 percent. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission wants operators over the next two months to reduce injections by more than 500,000 barrels of wastewater daily in an area that covers more than 5,200 square miles of northwest Oklahoma.” http://wapo.st/1PPwcO5

MONIZ: AGE CAUSED CALIFORNIA LEAK — The Associated Press: “The U.S. energy secretary says a major California gas leak is a sign of aging energy infrastructure and the incident calls for stronger gas storage regulations. Secretary Ernest Moniz on Tuesday visited the site of the Southern California Gas Co. well blowout to learn lessons to help frame a multiagency approach to improving safety.” http://bit.ly/1mGoOMx

WIND PICKS UP: The U.S. added 8.6 gigawatts of wind power capacity in 2015, outpacing new installations of both solar power and natural gas, the American Wind Energy Association announced. AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan noted that a significant amount of new wind installations were prompted by power purchase agreements with commercial and industrial clients. The 2015 wind power installations represented a 65 percent increase from 2014 levels, according to data in a Bloomberg New Energy Finance report released earlier this month. — POLITICO’s Esther Whieldon

BUFFETT BETS ON KINDER MORGAN — Bloomberg: “Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. added an investment in Kinder Morgan Inc. during the fourth quarter, snapping up shares of the pipeline operator as its market value plunged. Berkshire held 26.5 million shares of the company as of Dec. 31, according to a regulatory filing Tuesday disclosing U.S. stock holdings. The stake was valued at $395.9 million at the end of 2015.” http://bloom.bg/1mGpn94

RUSSIA, SAUDIS PLEDGE TO CURB OIL — The Associated Press: “Oil powerhouses Russia and Saudi Arabia joined Qatar and Venezuela in pledging Tuesday to cap their crude output if other producers do the same, aiming to halt a slide that has pushed oil prices to their lowest point in more than a decade. The decision followed an unexpected closed-door meeting involving the four countries in the Qatari capital, Doha, and reflects growing concern among big producers about the effects the slump poses to their domestic economies. Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in a statement issued after the meeting that the four countries would be ready to cap production based on last month’s output levels if others join.” http://nydn.us/1PPwHrj

EU LOOKS TO WEAN ITSELF FROM RUSSIAN GAS — The New York Times’ James Kanter: “European Union authorities on Tuesday stepped up efforts to reduce reliance on Russian natural gas as the two sides face off over a litany of geopolitical disputes, from the conflict in Ukraine to the civil war in Syria. The centerpiece of the proposals, presented by the European Commission, the bloc’s executive agency, is a plan to vet energy contracts with countries outside the union like Russia so that member states can compare conditions and look elsewhere for better deals.” http://nyti.ms/1SRxpuc

FUTURES:

--About that deal: The markets turned sour on the Russia, Saudi deal and oil prices fizzled, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Light, sweet crude for March delivery lost 40 cents, or 1.4%, to $29.04 a barrel Tuesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It had reached as $31.53 a barrel before the retreat. Brent, the global benchmark, settled down $1.21, or 3.6%, at $32.18 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe. It had reached as $35.55 a barrel.” http://on.wsj.com/1mGpQbu

--Natural gas sank as weather forecasts show warmer temperatures.

“Futures for March delivery settled down 6.3 cents, or 3.2%, at $1.903 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest settlement since Dec. 22. Gas has fallen for five straight sessions and lost 11% during that period.” http://on.wsj.com/1mGpS2U

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